Delays in rolling out broadband continue – Smith

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There have been unacceptable delays in rolling out broadband infrastructure throughout the country.  People in their homes, at places of work and in community settings need to have proper telecommunications infrastructure.  It is obvious that it will be many years before such standards of communications are available to many communities particularly in rural Ireland.

This is not acceptable and the utmost urgency must be attached to the provision of modern and up to date telecommunications infrastructure for all areas regardless of their location.

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For Written Answer on : 12/12/2019
Question Number(s): 304 Question Reference(s): 52370/19
Department: Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
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QUESTION

[Ref No.: 52370/19]

*  To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the areas in counties Cavan and Monaghan that will benefit from the extension of broadband infrastructure in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 12th December, 2019.

(690  Received on 9th December, 2019.)

REPLY
The National Broadband Plan is the Government’s plan to rollout high speed broadband to the 1.1 million people living and working in the nearly 540,000 premises including almost 100,000 businesses and farms, along with 695 schools, where commercial operators will not commit to deliver the service.

Following the contract signing on 19 November, work has already begun and a deployment plan will be made available by NBI shortly. All counties will see premises passed in the first 2 years and over 90% of premises in the State will have access to high speed broadband within the next four years.

By the end of 2021, NBI plans to pass approximately 115,000 premises, with 70,000 – 100,000 passed each year thereafter until rollout is completed. NBI has indicated that the network rollout will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment.

The planned rollout will provide access to high speed broadband to 16,200 premises and 15,125 premises located in the Intervention Area in Cavan and Monaghan, respectively, through a combined investment of approximately €125m over 25 years.

Approximately 300 Broadband Connections Points (BCPs), including schools, library hubs and local sports halls in every county in Ireland, including counties Cavan and Monaghan, will be connected to high speed broadband during 2020, to enable communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband. 11 BCPs are planned for deployment in Cavan and 12 for Monaghan. The BCP locations are available to view on the High Speed Broadband Map on the Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie.

The BCPs have been specifically selected by the local authorities so that they can provide public Wi-Fi and other facilities to support mini digital/enterprise hubs to the local community in advance of the main NBP deployment. Broadband Officers in each Local Authority were tasked with consulting with local communities and business to find the appropriate mix of locations to reap the maximum benefits.

All BCPs will have a free public Wi-Fi connection, some will also have hot-desks, and some will be digital hub business centres where digital training, business information events and other SME supports are organised. The 23 BCPs planned for deployment in Cavan-Monaghan are:

Cavan

  • Bunnoe Community Centre, Bunnoe, Lisboduff, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, H16P031
    · Castlerahan Hall, Cormeen, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, A82NP99
    · Cornafean Community Centre, Corr, Cornafean, Co. Cavan, H12X8X0
    · Drumavaddy Community Centre, Drumavaddy, Carrickaboy, Co. Cavan, H12YF88
    · Killenkere GAA Club, Killenkere Leisure Centre, Beagh, Virginia, Co. Cavan, A82H9F6
    · Knocknalosset Orange Order Hall, Knocknalosset, Canningstown, Co. Cavan, H16XY10
    · Maudabawn Cultural Centre, Maudabawn, Cootehill, Co. Cavan, H16FH33
    · Mullahoran Community Centre, Grousehall, Loughduff, Co. Cavan, H12AF43
    · Saint Patrick’s Community Centre, Mully Upper, Glangevlin, Co. Cavan, N41Y661
    · Scouting Ireland, Castle Saunderson International Scouting Centre, Castlesaunderson, Belturbet, Co. Cavan, H14X650
    · Templeport Community Centre, Cloneary, Bawnboy, Co. Cavan, H14YX29

Monaghan

  • Ballybay Development Association, Clones Road, Derryvalley, Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, A75HF78
    · Carn Resource Centre, Carn, Smithborough, Co. Monaghan, H18YW40
    · Tanagh Outdoor Education & Training Centre, Dartrey, Cootehill, Co. Monaghan, H16HC83
    · Corcaghan Community Centre, Corcaghan, Stranooden, Co. Monaghan, H18PK31
    · Corduff Gaels G.F.C., Corduff, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, A81KA61
    · Drum School, Cortober, Drum, Co. Monaghan, H16AK79
    · Drumgossatt National School, Drumgossatt, Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan, A81X827
    · Drumhawan Community Centre, Drumhawan, Tullynahinnera, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, A75YV81
    · Latton Resource Centre, Latton, Co. Monaghan, A75E771
    · Mullyash Community Centre, Camaghty, Mullyash, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, A75W923
    · Saint Alphonsus Community Hall, Clontask, Drummully, Clones, Co. Monaghan, H23XV08
    · Tullycorbet Parish Hall, Patrician Hall, Corvoy, Ballybay, Co. Monaghan, A75YW53

Mobile telephone coverage needs to be improved in Cavan and Monaghan – Smith

 

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I have consistently raised with the Communications Minister the need for his Department and ComReg to insist that the mobile telephone companies provide a proper standard of coverage in all areas. This is not happening at the minute and today people are very dependent on mobile telephony as they go about their daily business.

People are paying more than enough for their calls and the least the telephone companies can do is to ensure proper coverage at all times and in all places.

[Ref No.: 53397/19]

*  To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to have mobile telephone coverage improved in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 17th December, 2019.

(1236  Received on 12th December, 2019.)

 

Providing telecommunications services, including mobile phone services, is a matter for the relevant service providers operating in a fully liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as independent Regulator. I do not have statutory authority to require commercial companies to rollout services and make specific investments in particular locations. The ComReg consumer helpline is accessible at consumerline@comreg.ie and I would urge consumers who feel that they have not received an appropriate response from service providers to make contact with the Regulator.

Since its inception in July 2016, the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce has been a driving force for improving access to telecommunications services throughout Ireland. The Taskforce has addressed over 70 targeted actions designed to alleviate connectivity barriers, and continues to focus on issues that are negatively impacting upon the rollout of essential telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas, including in counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Various measures to address mobile coverage deficits, particularly in rural areas, include:

– Work undertaken by my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development to achieve a greater consensus on site selection for telecoms infrastructure and therefore improve mobile phone coverage.

– A report published on my Department’s website in August 2018 based on the work of a focus group established to provide guidance on the categories of location where high quality reliable mobile coverage should be made available as a priority, to influence mobile operators in their work to reduce blackspots.

– A working group investigating the feasibility of developing standardised policy for accessing and utilising State and publicly owned assets for deploying telecommunications infrastructure.

– A composite national outdoor coverage map published by ComReg, together with the Regulator’s work on handset testing and activities to raise consumer awareness, allowing people across Ireland to optimise services available to them.

– A licensing exemption scheme developed by ComReg to enable households and businesses to use mobile phone repeaters to boost signals into their premises for immediate coverage improvement.

All of these initiatives should help enhance the quality of mobile phone and data services, particularly in areas currently experiencing a low level of service, including counties Cavan and Monaghan.

Smith raises with the Taoiseach legacy issues arising from the Troubles

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Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has again raised with the Taoiseach legacy issues arising from the Troubles and highlighted the need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive restored.

During a Dáil debate Deputy Smith detailed the legacy issues and the need for the restoration of the Political Institutions in Northern Ireland.

Deputy Smith said, “I hope we will see significant progress without delay in regard to re-establishing the Assembly and Executive. While there are a number of important issues that a re-established Assembly and Executive will have to address, I believe the matter of legacy issues related to the Troubles needs to be dealt with comprehensively and not side-lined. 

“Throughout my time as a Public Representative I have met and worked with and supported many families of victims.  Unfortunately many have lost a sibling, parent, son or daughter but they are no nearer to getting the truth in relation to those crimes.  What is frequently raised with me is the fear of family members that they may not live long enough to get the truth or see justice served. 

“While I welcome the Taoiseach’s support regarding my comments I hope that he will follow through and continue to raise the matter in any upcoming discussions with regards to the re-establishment of the Political Institutions established under the Good Friday Agreement.

“For those who have lost loved ones during the Troubles, there will never be closure just by getting the truth, but I hope that it will at least in part alleviate the awful pain that they continue to go through.  I sincerely hope that progress can be achieved.  It is something that will require strong support from both Governments and the Political Parties in Northern Ireland but these are very important issues that need to be addressed,” concluded Deputy Smith.

Bailieborough Regional Water Supply Scheme

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Following ongoing representations to Irish Water this is the most recent response received in relation to the ongoing difficulties with the Bailieborough Regional Water Supply Scheme.

I have emphasised again the absolute need to have this issue addressed satisfactorily with the utmost urgency.

Sent: 16 December 2019 16:43
To: Brendan Smith <Brendan.Smith@oireachtas.ie>
Subject: Irish Water: Bailieborough Public Water Supply Scheme

Dear Deputy Smith,

Thank you for your query.

Irish Water in cooperation with Cavan County Council is working to resolve issues which have led to a Do Not Consume Notice being issued for Bailieborough Water Supply and to restore a safe and secure water supply as soon as possible. Raw water quality at Skeagh Lough continued to fluctuate throughout the weekend.

Irish Water and Cavan County Council staff at the water treatment plant are continuing to adjust the treatment processes at the plant so the water meets all regulatory compliances. Flushing of the network has commenced to clear out any remaining non-compliant water in the network.

Should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

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Welcome for building project for Inver College, Carrickmacross – Brendan Smith TD

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Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed the approval by the Department of Education and Skills of a major building project for Inver College, Carrickmacross.

“This approval will enable the provision of significant additional permanent accommodation at Inver College consisting of general classrooms, Science Room, Art Room and a Special Needs Unit. I hope that this much needed accommodation can be provided in a timely manner and I compliment the Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board on progressing the project to this stage.

I had raised with the Minister for Education and Skills through Parliamentary Questions the need to progress this project and ensure that the school will have the most up to date accommodation and facilities. I wish the ETB and all involved with Inver College every success in delivering this new accommodation”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

Govt. needs to publish long awaited review of social housing eligibility limits – Smith

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-3 years since review secured as part of wider social housing reform plans-

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Brendan Smith, says the government should expedite the review of income limits on social housing eligibility, rather than continuing to hide it in the broader social housing reform plans.

Deputy Smith commented, “I am very disappointed that the review into social housing income limits has not been concluded or published. It has been nearly three years since the government committed to these reviews.

“In the intervening years the housing crisis has only soared with people of all ages trapped into rising rents and home ownership being an unattainable ambition.

“I have consistently highlighted the cases of many applicants on low incomes, who were not deemed eligible, because they were over the income threshold and who at the same time had no chance whatsoever of obtaining a mortgage or a bank loan to purchase a home. 

“There is a critical need to improve income eligibility limits for social housing, particularly in counties such as Cavan and Monaghan where the local rental cost of housing accommodation has risen.

“The Minister for Housing should immediately see to the publication of the review.  His recent reply to me is unacceptable. It is time for the government to put meaningful income limits in place,” Deputy Smith concluded.

PQ 5017819 5017919 Brendan Smith

 

Do Not Consume Notice issued for customers supplied by the Bailieborough Public Water Supply Scheme

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I raised with Irish Water on a number of occasions concerns about the difficulties with the Bailieborough Public Water Supply Scheme which services a large area of East Cavan.

Below is the most recent response received from Irish Water.  Again I have asekd Irish Water to have these issues addressed with the utmost urgency.

 

Do Not Consume Notice issued for customers supplied by the Bailieborough Public Water Supply Scheme

December 13 2019 – Following consultation with the Health Service Executive (HSE) Irish Water, working in partnership with Cavan County Council, has issued a Do Not Consume Notice for all consumers on the Bailieborough Public Water Supply Scheme due to elevated levels of manganese in the water supply. The notice applies to 7,785 customers served by the Bailieborough Public Water Supply including Bailieborough, Killinkere, Virginia, Crossbane and Mullagh.

Please note this is not a Boil Water Notice. Boiling the water will not reduce manganese levels and is therefore not a suitable measure to make the water safe to consume. It is especially important that mains drinking water is not given to bottle fed infants. This notice does not apply to other areas and water schemes in County Cavan

Manganese is found naturally in many surface water (lake and river water) and groundwater (underground water) sources. Water passing through soil and rock can dissolve minerals containing manganese. The levels leaving the water treatment plant are in exceedance of those permitted under the drinking water regulations and at a level where the HSE have advised a restriction on use.

Tankers will be in place from 1pm today to provide an alternative water supply to customers. Customers are reminded to use their own containers when taking water from the tankers and to boil water before consumption as a precautionary measure.

Water tankers will be located in the following areas:

  • Bailieborough Old Courthouse, Main St
  • Virginia – The Showgrounds, New St
  • Mullagh – Heritage Centre Car Park
  • Killinkere – Church Car Park
  • Crossbane – Church Car Park

Irish Water drinking water compliance and operational experts are working with colleagues in Cavan County Council to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

Peter Gallagher Irish Water advises “At the moment we are adjusting the treatment processes at the plant so the water meets all regulatory compliances.  Once this has been achieved, we will begin flushing to clear out any remaining non-compliant water in the network.  Alternative sources of water will be provided for drinking and  you can continue to use your internal water supply for flushing of toilets, personal hygiene (showering/bathing), laundry and washing utensils.  Water from the hot tap of the kitchen or bathroom is not safe to drink”

Irish Water is working closely with Cavan County Council to rectify the situation and will keep the public informed, through

IW registered vulnerable customers affected by this notice will be contacted directly and advised on water supplies Peter added “Irish Water acknowledges the impact on a Do Not Consume Notice has on the local community.  We are working hard to address the issue and will continue to work closely with Cavan County Council and the HSE to monitor the supply and lift the notice as quickly as it is safe to do so and safeguard the supply for the future”.

This water should not be used for

  • Drinking
  • Drinks made with water
  • Food preparation, washing or cooking of food,
  • Brushing of teeth
  • Making of ice
  • Children under 12 months old should not drink this water
  • In particular, children under 12 months old should not drink this water. This water should not be used for making up infant formula for bottled fed infants. An alternative source of water should be used. Bottled water can also be used to make up infant formula. All bottled water, with the exception of natural mineral water, is regulated to the same standard as drinking water. It is best not to use bottled water labelled as ‘Natural Mineral Water’ as it can have high levels of sodium (salt) and other minerals, although it rarely does. ‘Natural Mineral Water’ can be used if no other water is available, for as short a time as possible, as it is important to keep babies hydrated.
  • If bottled water is used to make up infant formula it should be boiled once (rolling boil for 1 minute), and cooled in the normal way
  • Ready-to-use formula that does not need added water can also be used.
  • Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink
  • Caution should be taken when bathing infants to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water
  • Discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges

What can you use water for?

  • The water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing, flushing toilets, laundry and washing of utensils
  • Irish Water and Cavan  County Council will continue to liaise with the Health Service Executive with a view to lifting this drinking water restriction as soon as practicable.

Updates will be available on our Water Supply Updates section, on Twitter @IWCare and via our customer care helpline, open 24/7 on 1850 278 278.

ENDS

Talks on new contract for community pharmacists must begin in New Year – Smith

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Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Brendan Smith, says the HSE and Minister for Health must engage fully with community pharmacists to agree a new contract in the new year.

Deputy Smith, “Community pharmacists play a crucial role in towns and villages across Cavan-Monaghan. For many people they are their first port of call if they are feeling under the weather, and in many cases the advice that our pharmacists provide can prevent the need for people to have to go to their GP.

“Pharmacists are trusted and respected within their communities, but as with so many other health professionals, this government has left them high and dry, and fearful about the new HSE contract.

“Despite publicly declaring in May that a new contract for community pharmacists is needed, the Health Minister has failed to move the issue on.

“Pharmacists have been facing threats from the HSE that they would face a range of cuts to their income.  My party has been advocating strongly for pharmacists and believe they shouldn’t be treated any differently to GPs, in relation to the reversal of the financial emergency measures in the public interests, FEMPI.

“I understand that the HSE proposals for cuts have now been withdrawn and talks are to start on a new pharmacists’ contract shortly.  This is a welcome development.

“I will continue to monitor the situation and engage with the relevant parties to ensure that a fair contract is agreed, which benefits patients and pharmacists in Cavan-Monaghan alike,” concluded Deputy Smith.

HSE CONFIRMS PIETA HOUSE SUICIDE BEREAVEMENT COUNSELLING SERVICE TO CAVAN AND MONAGHAN

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HSE

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed confirmation from the HSE in relation to the establishment by Pieta House of a Suicide Bereavement counselling and crisis service for people at risk of suicide and self-harm in Cavan and Monaghan.

The HSE in their reply to Deputy Brendan Smith stated:

“This Service will be delivered on an outreach basis by Pieta House through employment of a Therapist for 16 hours per week to support people across the two counties. The Therapist will provide one to one bereavement counselling to people who have been bereaved by suicide, as well as one to one counselling to those experiencing suicidal ideation, who have attempted suicide, or those engaging in self-harm. The therapist will be based primarily in Tusla Child Wellbeing Centre in Castleblayney for County Monaghan and options are being explored through HSE Primary Care for County Cavan as well as other locations in County Monaghan.

It is envisaged that the post will be advertised through Pieta House by mid-December with a view to the Therapist being in post by early 2020. The service provided by Pieta House is completely free of charge, and open to adults and children from as young as 6 years old.

This Service will strengthen the support already available to people bereaved through suicide by the recent appointment of a Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer (SBLO). The SBLO is available to provide emotional and practical support to people who have lost a loved one through suicide and can be contacted on 085 870 6591.

The work of the Pieta House Outreach Service will be supported by local stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Cavan Monaghan Connecting for life Suicide Prevention Strategy.  These services fall under one of the actions of the local Plan which was launched back in June 2017 and maps out a range of actions that seek to reduce the risks of suicide in our local communities”.

Deputy Brendan Smith welcomed this development and he also stated that other voluntary organisations are doing very important work in suicide prevention and counselling and they also need to be supported through the HSE.

HSE REPLY –

Introduction of Pieta House Suicide Bereavement Counselling and crisis intervention service to Cavan and Monaghan

HSE Cavan Monaghan Mental Health Service welcome the establishment of a suicide bereavement counselling and crisis intervention service for people at risk of suicide and self-harm in Cavan and Monaghan.

This Service will be delivered on an outreach basis by Pieta House through employment of a Therapist for 16 hours per week to support people across the two counties. The Therapist will provide one to one bereavement counselling to people who have been bereaved by suicide, as well as one to one counselling to those experiencing suicidal ideation, who have attempted suicide, or those engaging in self-harm. The therapist will be based primarily in Tusla Child Wellbeing Centre in Castleblayney for County Monaghan and options are being explored through HSE Primary Care for County Cavan as well as other locations in County Monaghan.

It is envisaged that the post will be advertised through Pieta House by mid-December with a view to the Therapist being in post by early 2020. The service provided by Pieta House is completely free of charge, and open to adults and children from as young as 6 years old.

This Service will strengthen the support already available to people bereaved through suicide by the recent appointment of a Suicide Bereavement Liaison Officer (SBLO). The SBLO is available to provide emotional and practical support to people who have lost a loved one through suicide and can be contacted on 085 870 6591.

The work of the Pieta House Outreach Service will be supported by local stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Cavan Monaghan Connecting for life Suicide Prevention Strategy.  These services fall under one of the actions of the local Plan which was launched back in June 2017 and maps out a range of actions that seek to reduce the risks of suicide in our local communities.

The Cavan Monaghan Connecting for Life Steering Group includes representatives from statutory organisations (HSE, Tusla, County Councils, Gardai, ETB) and community services including Family Resource Centres, Youth Services, as well as elected representatives from Cavan and Monaghan County Councils. Members of this Steering Group have held a number of meetings with staff from Pieta House over the recent months to help bring this service to the area. This work, along with the support and campaigning of the Cavan and Monaghan Darkness in Light Committees has helped to finally bring these much needed services to the counties of Cavan and Monaghan.

Both posts outlined are being funded by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) through a National Service Agreement with Pieta House. Pieta House are contributing matched funding to the overall cost of the suicide bereavement counselling and crisis intervention service.

 

 

ENDS

United States Congress outlines again its strong support for Good Friday Agreement – Brendan Smith TD

Delighted along with Senator Billy Lawless to meet Congressman Brendan Boyle and other Members of the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill on the day that the House through Resolution 585 reaffirmed its strong support for the Good Friday Agreement.

This Resolution reiterated once again the full support of Congress for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and it expressed its opposition to the reintroduction of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Resolution also reiterated the clear message from Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she visited Britain and Ireland last April that Congress will insist that any new or amended trade agreements and other bilateral agreements between the Government of the United States and the Government of the United Kingdom include conditions requiring obligations under the Good Friday Agreement to be met.

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